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Stuck On The M 20!


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Here is the queue of trucks, parked up on the M20, waiting to get into Dover, which is seven miles from where this photo was taken. The actual queue is more than 15 miles long.

Why I am I posting this?  Because it was taken THIRTY YEARS AGO - during the Sealink seamen's strike, which had by then, lasted for 12 weeks.

It seems we have learned nothing since.

The truck in the foreground is from the same company that I drove for, but I had arrived 3 hours earlier into Dover that Sunday night so I was stuck in the docks but my friend John was stuck in what was later called "operation stack" on the M20.

No-one knew who actually started it but on that Monday morning all the truckers had had enough of being the victims of some-one else's dispute, and so some of us parked our trucks across the link spans leading to the ferries, and blocked off the port.

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They tried to remove us but it turned out that although Dover docks were part of the "public highway", the link spans were not, so they could not remove us.  The action soon spread to other Channel ports such as Calais, Ostend and Zeebrugge and for two days, we stopped all ferry movements in the English Channel.  The Dover Harbour Board were actually on our side, as they were trying to run a commercial port, but had been prevented, by a seamens' dispute.

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This was in the days before free movement across borders in the EU, so all the truckers that you see here, (and hundreds more) have already cleared customs, have their "T forms" stamped, and are waiting to cross the channel.  As such, they no longer "exist" in England and are not able to leave the port and go home.  So they are prisoners of the system, in the same way that truckers are today, thirty years later.

There were a lot of meetings and a lot of speeches, which I became involved in as I ended up as the French interpreter for all the French and Eastern European drivers who were also stuck there.

 

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Our principle was that we were not on strike, but we were fed up with being buggered about by others.  In the end Sealink backed down and so did the seamen and we voted to remove the blockade.  This photo shows most of the truckers' committee being applauded as the first trucks from Calais came down the link spans into Dover after the strike was over.

It was a time to remember and it shows how truckers have a lot of patience, but it has its limits!  And what have we learned from it, thirty years later?

Bugger all, by the look of it!

 

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Testing the drivers has been suggested , it’s more a case of France using the situation as an advantage in the current Brexit talks (I believe)

Here is the queue of trucks, parked up on the M20, waiting to get into Dover, which is seven miles from where this photo was taken. The actual queue is more than 15 miles long. Why I am I posting

I also posted this because I deeply resent the suggestion, especially by government ministers, that truckers are OK because they lead a lonely life and don't mind staying in their cabs.  How dare they

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3 minutes ago, OldBerkshireBoy said:

Failing to understand why drivers aren`t tested for Covid then allowed into France if clear. Also failing to understand why France say the ports are shut for 48hr, where does the 48hr come into things?

The Hundred Year War was never over! 

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Well said Vaughan

I live in Hythe and this happens on average two or three times a year nothing new causes are usually bad weather or strikes in France

On Monday night I drove the M20 from Ashford to Maidstone work re later Coast bound carriageway all closed not a lorry in sight the new roll out barrier designed to allow two way traffic on the motorway costing millions not being used police stopping all traffic at Junction 8 sending lorries to motorway and cars down the old A20 causing chaos why spend millions on a barrier and not use it

also one of the photographs showing lorries stacking is four years old

all propaganda

Ray

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2 hours ago, CambridgeCabby said:

Testing the drivers has been suggested , it’s more a case of France using the situation as an advantage in the current Brexit talks (I believe)

:facepalm: Personally I would tell the French Government that all the drivers had been tested and they were all negative

and let them roll.

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Then again, a government minister stands up and says to the world we have a mutant strain of covid ripping through Kent and you think France would say nothing?

40 countries also said no way. 
And what did we say about China and did not the public say why did we not close the borders?

it’s like the sketch where one nazi says to the other, are we the baddies then?

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 I also posted this because I deeply resent the suggestion, especially by government ministers, that truckers are OK because they lead a lonely life and don't mind staying in their cabs.  How dare they make such a stupid assumption?  Obviously they have never been in one of the big "routier" restaurants on the French national roads, or in the huge service areas on the European borders, such as Aachen, Breda or Ventimiglia.

I was what they called a continental driver - nowadays known as "trampers" - and yes, you are on your own a lot and you make your own way.  In the days long before mobile phones or GPS, you were very much running your own business.  I was away for 5 nights a week, doing 2500 to 3000 km a week and unless I found a phone box and called the office in Norfolk, no-one knew where I was.

 

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This is a lay-by off the main road in La Tour du Pin, just east of Lyon and about a mile from the factory where I was loading the next morning. I knew loads of places like this and this is where I would choose to spend peaceful nights "on my own in my cab".

But I would certainly NOT choose to be trapped in my cab on the slow lane of the M20 for several days and nights because of some-one else's blasted incompetence and total lack of fore-sight!

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I can see the benefit if,For example if a lorry sets off today for let's say south  of France. Then tests are useful. From my stay in hospital, I had to be tested every  five days. In fact in the seven days there I had four tests.One of which they couldn't  find the results, so I needed another one.But what's going to happen testing drivers stuck at Dover now.Think our friends across the channel are being bloody minded. 

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3 minutes ago, Chelsea14Ian said:

Think our friends across the channel are being bloody minded. 

It seems clear that the Brexit débacle has a lot to do with this.

As regards testing, I agree that truckers are not "loners" and come into as much public contact as any other traveller.  For instance they are just like all the other passengers when they are on a ferry!  How do these "experts" think they load their trucks, or deliver their goods?  All on their own, in isolation?  This is just ill-informed, incompetent and muddled thinking, of a standard that we are having to get used to, from those who should know better.

What annoys me is that with Brexit having been disputed for 3 or more years, a simple border closure such as his shows how absolutely no proper preparation has been made in that time.  What do they think it is going to be like after Brexit, when the French fishermen blockade Calais and Dunkirk, because they can't fish in our territorial waters any more?

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This all just adds to the terrible situation that is going on in the world at the moment. They are human beings at the end of the day and most of them want to be home for Christmas. I saw a guy on the news who said he just wanted to go home for Christmas. Let's hope the poor beggars get home x

:default_xmas6:

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Playing devils advocate here and having family in Tours in france. 
Funny how the comments here ignore the other countries who have banned imports and have nothing to do with the EU. 
I say again, we have an image problem. 
we are not looked upon as plucky little Uk. 
The new variant of covid is called British covid and with our infection figures regarded as an island of quarantine. 
We openly talked about sending in the navy and have problems in dealing with legitimate soled fishing rights that we now want to snatch back. 
Im not putting us down but we have to get realistic on what we are and what we once was. These are two different things. 
The french will be nightmares because the worker still has power and we are an island that is very far from supporting itself. More than most people imagine. 
This is how much we depend on ports and always have, that was why we had the biggest navy in the world to make sure trade kept moving. 

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I have just seen the nine o'clock news and there is starting to be trouble in Dover between drivers and the police.  It also seems that the drivers are now blockading roads out of the port and out of Dover itself, as they feel if they are going to be trapped then so is everyone else.

This does not surprise me in the least and I predict it will get a lot worse.  There must be a great deal of anger at the moment.  Truckers have to learn to be patient, as they have to wait around for long periods - waiting to be loaded, waiting to clear customs - it is all part of the job.  But they are independent minded and they are not the sort of people you would be advised to push too far!

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Hi Are the other ports open Zebrugga, Santander etc does any body know, looking at the news last night other country's also have this new strain it's just that apparently we have a better testing system so found out first and followed the rules and informed world health office it was even suggested that it wasn't impossible that the strain came from France hence it started around Dover, and of course Brexit is int helping, the French have always done what's good for France means anything goes.John

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